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Shopping for Antiques in Small Town Ohio


I had an errand to run recently that took me out into the country of southern Ohio. Prior to going, I Googled “antique stores” to see if I could find a few in nearby small towns. One town, Lynchburg OH, showed a single antique store listing online.

Well, I went out of my way and found Lynchburg. There was a single stoplight with a bank, a gas station, a hardware store and a few other buildings. Within a few seconds I found the location of Lynchburg Antique Mall but it appeared to be closed. Darn it! I was ready to spend some money. After walking up to the store front and peering through the glass, I saw someone arranging items inside. I knocked on the window, totally ignoring the sign on the door which announced that the store would be open for business for the season in a couple of weeks. The man inside the store opened the door to talk to me and let me in.

This guy was busy and could have turned me away. As soon as I told him what I was looking for, he rummaged around and found me several boxes of vintage costume jewelry for me to look through. I found some good items; we had a good conversation while I was looking and he gave me a fabulous deal.

I’ll be back. The owner of the mall said that several antique stores are open in the area during the summer season. It will be fun to explore the area again in a few months.

www.midcenturyjewelry.com.

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Searching For Antiques in Southern Ohio


On my way to an antiques auction yesterday, I passed this cute antiques store. The store in located in Seven Mile, OH, which is a charming wide spot in the road. I love country antique stores like this. It seems that there are fewer and fewer of them around.

Anyway, the store had a charming interior. The wood burning stove and the shaggy pet dog added to the quirky atmosphere. Lots and lots of antique furniture.

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Why Antique Malls Are Going Out Of Business


I was a seller in antique malls for nearly ten years. I enjoyed going to the store every few days, merchandising my vintage costume jewelry and talking to customers. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that remaining in an antique mall was not a smart business decision. I moved out.

I’ve noticed that antique malls and stores all over the MidWest are dying out. Below are the reasons why I think antique malls are going out of business:

1. Competition from the Internet, especially eBay. eBay allows me to market my items worldwide. Many times I would put an excellent piece of vintage costume jewelry in my mall showcase at a competitive price, only to have it sit there for months. Eventually I would get frustrated and remove it from the store to list on eBay. Invariably a collector from New York or California would purchase the item on eBay for many times what I had it listed in the store for. I came to the conclusion that my “best” customers were collectors and dealers in large metropolitan markets with money to spend. These type people rarely walked into an antique store in southern Ohio.

2. Antique Mall Rent/High Overhead: My mall charged a hefty but competitive rent for my city. This overhead was a barrier that had to be scaled each month, regardless of the level of sales. The owner of my antique mall never varied the rent — so when things were bad, the rent was still high. eBay on the other hand is tied more to dollar sales. Some antique shows have competitive fees that can help a dealer sell with lower overhead.

3. Declining quality of merchandise sold in antique stores: My personal experience is that the level of merchandise available in antique malls can decline if a mall owner is not vigilant in policing the merchandise that dealers bring in. When a mall owner is not willing to prohibit new items or Goodwill level merchandise, this leads to a decline in quality of merchandise. Higher quality dealers get frustrated and move out looking for better selling venues.

4. Inability to control image: In a store surrounded by other dealers/merchandise, the only area I had control over was my own. If someone beside me kept a dirty booth or never changed out inventory or sold low quality items, this brought down the general atmosphere of the store. On eBay and on my website, my image is totally my own.

5. Too many people who aren’t antiques dealers are selling in malls: There are no licensing requirements or education requirements to become an antiques dealer. I’ve seen this a million times over the years — someone with an interest in antiques/collectibles decides to make a go of selling some things. These people may not have a selling or business background but they are able to pay some rent. Once these people move in to a mall, they place their items in their booth and wait for the sales to come. Often, more experienced dealers come and cherry pick the better quality items. After that, the new dealer is left to sell the remainder. The items may not be properly researched and priced. The new dealers may not ever come into the booth and move things around and re-merchandise. They may not know what customers are truly looking for. I’ve heard new dealers complain that no one is buying their merchandise, but these dealers aren’t able to analyze what THEY are doing wrong. They don’t understand that possibly they are selling inferior quality merchandise that is improperly priced or is undesirable. After a few months, these dealers are gone.

6. Dealers don’t research their items properly: It’s amazing how many dealers put a high price on every item, rather than knowing what they’ve got and price items accordingly. I call this the “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach.

7. Dealers who never change their merchandise: Again, it’s amazing how many dealers will leave an item sitting in its original spot, for YEARS sometimes, after placing it somewhere in a booth. Nothing turns me off more than walking through a mall and seeing the same merchandise I saw six months ago.

8. The Economy: Antiques are not a necessity. When the economy is bad, the first thing to go are the non-necessities.

9. Being in an antique store requires a dealer to sit on lots of inventory: When I was in selling in a mall, I had to keep lots and lots of inventory so that I had something for everyone. I needed high priced items, low priced items and lots of everything. The more I had and the more I kept it fresh, the higher my sales. Selling on the Internet allows me to keep a smaller inventory and sell as I aquire inventory. Thus, I don’t have as much money tied into inventory.

10. Fuel prices: Rising fuel prices affect everyone in the business. The cost to heat and light some of those old buildings where antique stores and malls are located has skyrocketed. High fuel prices has also meant a reduction in store traffic.